Could this – the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline – be the sweet spot in the all-new Volkswagen Tiguan range?
Well, it could be – if you’re looking at spending less than $45,000, and you’re after a mid-sized SUV that has more space than most of its rivals, and one of the best cabins of anything at this price point.
Big calls for the new Volkswagen Tiguan? Perhaps, but justified: read on to find out why.
Let’s start off with what the Comfortline specification gets you, and at what cost.
The 132TSI AWD Comfortline version you see here is priced at $41,490 plus on-road costs, and for that – as you may have gathered from its name – you get an all-wheel-drive SUV with a 132kW engine.
It’s petrol-powered, with the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged unit under the bonnet offering that obvious 132kW of power and 320Nm of torque, with gearshifts managed by a standard seven-speed dual-clutch (DSG) automatic gearbox: there are no paddle-shifters, though.
There’s quite a list of standard equipment, and it’s arguably the safety kit that stands out most.
There’s the requisite rear-view camera along with front and rear parking sensors, then there’s forward collision warning with autonomous braking, and lane-keeping assistance. You get six airbags fitted, too, with dual front, front side and full-length curtain coverage.
It rides atop 17-inch alloy wheels and there’s tyre pressure monitoring, and the interior – while lacking leather trim that is standard in many close-priced competitor models – feels up to spec. That’s because it has a standard-fit 8.0-inch infotainment screen with App-Connect (Apple CarPlay/Android Auto), Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, and satellite navigation.
But the biggest “wow” item in the cockpit is the digital instrument cluster, which is similar to the Virtual Cockpit display used in Audi’s products. It is crisp, clear, stunning, easy to learn and use, and sets this car apart in its class. It isn't standard, though: you have to option the driver assistance pack to get it, which includes adaptive cruise control and side assist with rear cross-traffic alert, as well as a surround-view camera system. The pack is $2250 – not bad, really.
And look, auto headlights and wipers are what you’d expect at this price point, but it doesn’t have keyless entry and/or push-button start. There is a leather-wrapped steering wheel, though.
But while the inclusions are quite good, all staff felt the halogen headlights looked a bit dowdy for a $40K-plus car, not to mention the small wheels. Competitors from Hyundai and Mazda have bigger wheels (18s or 19s) and better headlights (LEDs). At least it has LED tail-lights.
This model is further differentiated from the base spec by its chrome roof-rails and window surrounds, as well as the painted inserts in the bumpers.
In general the new Tiguan looks completely different to how it used to: it’s bigger in nearly every direction. It is longer and wider, and it sits a little lower than before.
More important than its looks, though, is the fact the new Tiguan is more spacious inside. The previous model was always short on space compared to its rivals, particularly in the boot area.
But that’s not the case anymore. The boot is now capable of swallowing 520 litres of stuff, where it used to hold just 395L.
And while the boot is now considerably bigger, it can expand even further thanks to a sliding second-row seat that allows up to 615 litres of luggage storage, which VW claims is the best in class. If you flip the rear seats down, you’ve got 1655L – huge.
Not only is the boot considerably more usable, the back seat is vastly improved for space, too. There’s considerably more room in the second row outboard seats, and ISOFIX child seat attachment points are fitted for those with little ones.
Then you have the other smart bits: these flip-up tables like you get on a plane are pretty cool, and speaking of cool you’ve also got rear air vents with a third-zone temperature setup in the Comfortline model. There are dual ceiling-mounted drop-down storage boxes above the front seats, with the back one reachable from the second row.
The cockpit is so much nicer up front now: the old Tiguan was around for ages, and its dash design really left a lot to be desired. That digital dash and the big screen media unit offer simple and clear connectivity options.
Storage has been completely rethought up front, too, with plenty of little storage areas and a pair of funny little cup holders that pop out. Neat.
There are big door pockets that are flocked, which is great for stopping things from rattling around but not so good if you’re a snacker – expect chips and chocolate to a bit of a pain. There are hidey-holes for other items in the Comfortline model, too, with under seat drawers for the front seats.
In this mid-spec Comfortline 132TSI AWD model you get cloth trim and the seats are manually adjustable, while the dearer Highline models get leather trim, and the lower-spec Trendline version has a cloth trim that’s not as classy.
And if you get any version with the 4Motion all-wheel drive system, you have a rotary dial selector for different drive modes – eco, normal, sport and individual – with adjustments made to the steering and engine/gearbox depending on the mode chosen.
No matter which mode you’re in, the engine offers good response. Leave it in normal mode and it is certainly strong enough for daily duties, with excellent response down low in the rev range, even with four adults on board.
The Sport driving mode makes it even more speedy, but the steering then gets to a point where it's just a bit silly in terms of the resistance. We’d suggest, then, that using the individual mode to dial up normal steering and sport drivetrain settings could be the go for those who yearn for the ideal mix.
The DSG does exhibit a little bit of lag at low speeds, but it's not as bad as some of the previous-generation versions. The gearshifts are pretty snappy, and the transmission seems to know what you want of it in most situations.
The Tiguan does feel a bit bigger on the road than its predecessor, and the steering can be a little bit heavy at low speeds, but it is accurate and that means it's easy to place the car on the road
The suspension is generally good at dealing with pitter-patter bumps at higher speeds: the general feel of the car is that it rides a touch firm, not squishy, but it is nicely composed most of the time. It can be a tad clumsy at the front end over really sharp bumps, but maybe just slow down a little before tackling those speed humps.
Ownership of the Tiguan includes a five-year capped-price servicing plan - not six as we're used to from the brand - that requires maintenance every 12 months or 15,000 kilometres. Services cost an average of $649 per visit over that period, which is pretty high. There’s a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty, and three years' roadside assistance, too.
In summary, this all-new Volkswagen Tiguan 132TSI Comfortline model is a solid proposition in the tough medium SUV segment. It is short on some equipment, but we think it does enough in the way it is engineered, the quality of the interior and the thoughtfulness of it, to justify its price.